Hearing on Marianas Trench Marine National Monument Visitor Facility

February 21, 2010

On Friday the House Committee on Natural Resources announced:
On Thursday, the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife will receive testimony on the following bills:
  • H.R. 3511 (Sablan): To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to establish and operate a visitor facility to fulfill the purposes of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, and for other purposes. “Marianas Trench Marine National Monument Visitor Facility Authorization Act of 2009”
  • H.R. 4493 (Bordallo): To provide for the enhancement of visitor services, fish and wildlife research, and marine and coastal resource management on Guam related to the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, and for other purposes. “Marianas Trench Marine National Monument Management Enhancement Act of 2010”
Visit the Committee’s Web site to access witness testimony following the conclusion of the hearing. (February 25, 2010, at 10:00 a.m., Room 1324 Longworth House Office Building)
Angelo Villagomez said that Agnes McPhetres will be testifying. He said that testimony is needed from CNMI residents and urges everyone to take the time to write:
Testimony should include:

1. Who they are
2. What they did to support the creation of the monument
3. What they want to see from the monument
4. And to request a Mariana Trench Visitors Center be built on Saipan
There is a sample letter at Angelo's website. He suggests that the letter should be sent to both Congresswoman Bordallo and Congressman Gregorio (Kilili) Sablan.

At The Saipan Blog he writes:
The economic and social benefits promised by the designation of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument are in danger of being lost to Guam unless you do something about it.

Yes, YOU. If you are reading this and you want to see a Visitor’s Center built on Saipan instead of Guam, YOU need to get involved RIGHT NOW.

The Mariana Trench Marine National Monument belongs to the people of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. 6000 people signed a petition in support and 500 students wrote letters to the president. Backing was so strong that two separate independent polls found 66% of registered voters supported its creation in the Fall of 2008. And it was people from the Commonwealth, the Governor, the First Lady, Agnes McPhetres, Ike Cabrera, and myself that sat in the White House as President George W. Bush created the monument on January 6, 2009.

On Guam there was no public discussion and only a single meeting with federal officials. Guam Governor Camacho, Representative Bordallo, and an assortment of Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Council thugs also vehemently opposed the creation of the monument.
Please take the time to read the entire post and take the time to write a letter.

Here is a press release from Congressman Gregorio (Kilili) Sabaln:
February 19, 2010 12:35 PM
Saipan, MP – The House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife announced today a hearing on H.R. 3511, the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument Management Enhancement Act of 2009. The bill provides for Monument visitor facilities to be located in the Northern Mariana Islands and was introduced by Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan in July. A similar bill, H.R. 4493, introduced by Subcommittee Chair Madeleine Z. Bordallo this year is also on the agenda. The hearing will be on Thursday, February 25th, at 10:00 am, EST.

“I want to thank Chairwoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo for making time on her Subcommittee’s very busy agenda for these two bills,” said Congressman Sablan. “I appreciate her positive response to my requests for a hearing.”

“The many people in the Northern Mariana Islands who supported establishment of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument are very eager to see the promise of this Monument begin to be fulfilled. Establishing the visitor center in the NMI is an important first step towards realizing the potential benefits of the Monument.”

Kilili introduced H.R. 3511 on July 31, 2009. The bill has 37 co-sponsors. His bill authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to build a multipurpose visitor center in the NMI for interpretation, public education and enjoyment of the Monument. A hearing on the legislation was first scheduled in October, then cancelled by the Subcommittee.

Chairwoman Bordallo introduced H.R. 4493 on January 25, 2010. Bordallo’s bill provides for Monument visitor and research services to be placed on Guam. Bordallo’s bill also gives the Government of Guam a role in the management of the Monument, equivalent to the management role of the CNMI provided in the Presidential Proclamation that created the Monument.

The 95,216 square mile Marianas Trench Marine National Monument is composed of three units. The Trench unit includes the seabed in which the Marianas Trench is located. The Volcanic Unit includes numerous undersea volcanoes and thermal vents. Neither of these units incorporates the waters above the ocean floor.

The Islands Unit encloses the CNMI islands of Farallon de Pajaros, Maug Islands, and Asuncion. The Islands Unit includes both the seabed and the ocean waters above. Only the three islands themselves, which belong to the Commonwealth, are not part of the Islands Unit of the Monument.

“I look forward to working with Chairwoman Bordallo to make sure that Congress does the right thing with respect to development and management of the Monument,” says Congressman Sablan.

“And I look forward to taking testimony from Governor Fitial, the Northern Marianas Legislature, Friends of the Monument, and other parties both in the Northern Marianas and nationally, who advocated for the Monument or helped negotiate with the White House the terms and conditions of the Presidential Proclamation, signed on January 6, 2009.”

The Subcommittee will webcast the hearing live from the House Natural Resources Committee website: http://resourcescommittee.house.gov.

Anyone interested can also watch the webcast live at the Saipan District office on February 26th, 2009, beginning at 1:00 am, Chamorro Standard Time. Please refer questions about the event to Congressman Sablan’s Saipan district office at (670)-323-2647/8.
See also this post: Marine Monument Battle Brewing


Saipan Writer said...

It is very hard to make progress with positive projects when there is so much dissumlation. Still, I have hope for the Marianas Trench National Marine Monument.

[On a different front, Wendy, what do you know about this one? http://www.saipantribune.com/newsstory.aspx?cat=1&newsID=97403 ]